Diagnostic imaging techniques play an important role in the diagnosis and management of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). The approach should be guided by considerations of diagnostic accuracy, concerns about patient exposure to ionizing radiation, local expertise and tolerance of the endoscopic and/or imaging technique. In regard to the clinical diagnostic value (sensitivity, specificity and accuracy), no significant differences exist between CT and MRI for the evaluation of the extent of inflammation, stricturing, penetrating disease or extraluminal complications such as abscesses. Due to the absence of radiation exposure, MRI of the intestine is recommended as the first-line imaging modality in patients with suspected or established IBD. The focus of this review is the latest developments in MRI techniques to detect IBDs. Specifically, the use of new indices for the grading of inflammation or assessing bowel damage as well as innovative experimental approaches such as diffusion-weighted imaging or magnetization-transfer MRI to evaluate and quantify the degree of intestinal inflammation and fibrosis in stricturing Crohn's disease are discussed.

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